Yesterday’s WaPo article on bees was serendipitous for me. I’d recently seen a bee smaller than any other bee I had ever seen by far – much smaller than a pea – and it made me wonder how many varieties of bees there were. Growing up in Miami I’d only noticed one kind of bee, and it wasn’t till I moved up here that I saw my first bumblebee. I didn’t even realize it was a bee at first – the big fat thing that looked like a black and yellow flying jellybean did not resemble the bees I was used to in shape, size, color, or behavior. I can’t speak for anyone else, but their lollygagging pace makes me feel far more comfortable around them than other bees. It’s almost impossible to imagine those Orson Welles of the bee world attacking you.
Now, if you’re more insect-educated than I am – and it’s easy to imagine that – you scoffed when I said I’d only ever seen one type of bee. After all, there’s over 3,500 species of indigenous bees, a fact that Adrian Higgens’ article introduced me to, so the chances that I only ever saw one kind is unlikely. Since facts are, for me, like potato chips – you can’t consume just one – I looked up a few of the resources that Higgens provided, including the mention of the Xerces Society and the publication Farming for Bees, which can be downloaded in PDF form from that link. While I had better luck finding bee-attracting plants in the appendix of the UGA document “Bee Conservation in the Southeast,” I did find some other information about our area in the F4B document.
On page 19 is a case study of how Pepco has handled the land under some of their transmission lines. There’s more information on Pepco’s right of way program here but for my money you can’t beat a writeup about a power company program called the Butterfly Enhancement Project. I’m still trying to figure out where the devil that 5 acre stretch is, though I get the sense that it may not be accessible to the general public.
Until I figure that out and can take some shots there, why not content yourself with the collection of Flickr pictures tagged with ‘bee’ in our immediate area? And if you happen to know what that other bug is in my shot, sing out, would you? I’ve never seen a black and yellow beetle before.